Vinesh Phogat stands up to Wrestling federation, refutes two charges and admits to one in reply
Lawyer Vidushpat Singhania clearly stated that Vinesh Phogat, who had tested COVID-19 positive in 2020, was ‘merely following COVID-19 quarantine rules & regulations as specified by the International Olympic Committee & government of Japan in the athletes playbook.
- The reply also added that the complication caused after Vinesh was assigned a physiotherapist from the shooting contingent. Since the physio only became available post 9.15pm Japan Standard Time (JST), her day stretched beyond 10pm.
- So Vinesh requested a change in the schedule of their training to an earlier time, when the physiotherapist was available at an appropriate hour and their sleeping pattern was not disturbed.
Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat, who has been temporarily suspended by Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), sent her reply to the national federation. The 2018 Asian Games champion has refuted WFI on all their allegations apart from one – related to the wrong jersey she wore at the Tokyo Olympics. Vidushpat Singhania, who is the managing partner of Krida Legal, is the lawyer representing Vinesh Phogat against WFI.
“While the Athlete deeply regrets not winning a medal, the Athlete believes she has been wrongfully accused of misconduct and indiscipline at the Tokyo Olympic Games Village (‘Olympic Village’). The Athlete respectfully refutes the allegations specified under the said Notice,” the reply quoted by Indian Express newspaper stated.
“We are only answering the three allegations levelled against her in the show-cause notice so we did not go into the details of other logistics regarding the Olympics,” Singhania wrote. “The ball is now in WFI’s court, we are now waiting for their response.”
Charge 1: Vinesh refusing to stay and train with the Indian contingent at Olympics village
Singhania clearly stated that Vinesh, who had tested COVID-19 positive in 2020, was ‘merely following COVID-19 quarantine rules & regulations as specified by the International Olympic Committee & government of Japan in the athletes playbook. Referring to the ‘Test, Trace and Isolate’ regulations, the response noted that each athlete from India on arrival at the Olympic Village had to undergo a 3-day mandatory quarantine period. But Vinesh, who flew in from Hungary, as advised by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to those training abroad, reached Tokyo on July 28 and wasn’t required to. However, she chose caution to ensure safety of both herself and other wrestlers.
“In order to follow all COVID-19 protocols, Vinesh was required to stay with athletes of India’s track & field contingent who had arrived before the wrestlers and completed their quarantine, and was housed with Revathi Veeramani, Subha Venkatesan and Sekar Dhanalakshmi. The Athlete did not stay separately from the Indian contingent, as even the athletics contingent was a part of the larger Indian contingent at the Tokyo Olympics 2020,” the reply stated.
Charge 2: Refusal to train with Indian contingent
Vinesh’s lawyer argued that the wrestler used the ‘same transportation as the other wrestlers but merely used a different mat. “Post completion of the mandatory quarantine period for Indians, Vinesh trained with Seema Bisla on August 3-4,” the reply read.
The reply also added that the complication caused after Vinesh was assigned a physiotherapist from the shooting contingent. Since the physio only became available post 9.15pm Japan Standard Time (JST), her day stretched beyond 10pm. So Vinesh requested a change in the schedule of their training to an earlier time, when the physiotherapist was available at an appropriate hour and their sleeping pattern was not disturbed.
“In order to align timings with the physio, Vinesh shifted her training timings to merely an hour earlier than the scheduled training timings of the fellow Indian wrestlers, after obtaining permission from the head coach of the Indian wrestling contingent.”
Charge 3: Wearing wrong singlet
This was the only charge which Vinesh and her lawyer didn’t deny. Singhania stated that the mistake was ‘unintentional and caused due to incorrect planning by the Athlete’.
Vinesh stated that the Indian jersey which she wore to training was not washed for the day of competition owing to prior circumstances, and the error was not ill-intentioned.
“It is pertinent to mention that the Athlete wore the official jersey/kit of India for all training sessions at the Olympic Village, including at her training sessions on August 2-3-4. The Athlete had been donning the full official kit (including t-shirts, track suit & shoes) at all times, even till before the start of her Olympic bout on 05.08.2021… The Athlete, amidst all the chaos that was happening with her body, could not ensure if she was carrying the official jersey (wrestling singlet) of India or not. The Athlete humbly and unconditionally apologises to WFI and IOA for not being able to wear the official jersey/singlet at her Olympic bout,” the reply said.